• Tatum Jenkins

"Punisher" Inspired Poems

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

By Tatum Jenkins

The album Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers is more than an apocalyptic dream. It’s a reflection of what lies deepest in me, what I fear most, and what I desire deep down. Instead of hiding it, I’ve decided to share those demons with you all in the form of song-poems. I call them song-poems because they live in a space between poetry and music – lyrics without the music to make them songs. Each poem is labeled by the song I wrote it after and is followed by my favorite lyric from that song.


artwork by Lorelei Taybi

DVD Menu

I always picture the scariest thing might be the monster under my bed

Or a man with a knife

Or the ghost that lives in my attic

But then I imagine if my brother died last spring

Or if my friend had a hospital visit that never ended

Or if that man that motioned at me in the dark at that concert had grabbed me instead

That’s what I imagine real fear tastes like


Garden Song - “You should see it, I mean thousands”

When I was younger

I used to wear basketball shorts

I was supposed to be 5’9’’, at least that’s what the doctor said

Now I’m 5’6’’ and I don’t feel any older

And those shorts are in the trash

Growing old isn’t pretty

I wish the minutes didn’t pass me by so quickly

Maybe then I’d have the time to be grateful

Like when we drove down that beach highway to nowhere

You called it “heaven” and I guess that’s true

Because where else could you find so much sun and nothing dead

I wish I could think of hell instead

I’m only nineteen and I still believe

Something out there is going to save me

But now I’m stuck in my hometown

I guess I’ll just drive around and wait it out

I know these streets so well

They feel like poetry running through my wheels

Pour oil on my childhood

Watch it erupt

I bought a pair of boxer shorts

The memory of smooth polyester

Is better than the cotton on my thighs

As much as I love the past

I want it to die


Kyoto - “Twenty-five felt like flying”

I remember Bon Iver in December

Your eyes on mine in September

It all felt like forever

But even eternity has an end

They take the Christmas lights off the trees in front of my dorm

They move to the West Coast looking for better days

You don’t see the empty spaces

Until it’s midnight in the library

And the weight of everyone who’s left feels so heavy

But I can never look at the sky the same once you pointed out the clouds

Walking down Boylston, the cold coming down

And I can never say “I love you” without meaning it now

I guess you had a way of changing me somehow


Punisher - “What if I told you I feel like I know you? But we never met”

Walking down a main street in my town

It was fall and you were there

A ghost from the nineties

But you still haunt the screens

How is it you managed to find me?

Darlin’ won’t you stand by me?, he croons

Cherry blossoms shedding all over the highway that spring

Everytime that song plays, it makes me think of you

Oh please don’t let it be true

The pavement against the heat of your cheeks outside of a fucking club

It was Halloween

I hope you didn’t lay there long

Johnny shut it down for two days

But the cameras don’t catch a break

Even during a holiday

Promised I’d visit the spot when I could

Drive down to the ruins

Stand across the street and cry as leaves dry in the gutter

You feel so close, almost like a lover

You were born in the summer

Golden hair

You got that Leo look

Showed your brother Raging Bull

Now he’s talking about you on a stage

Tragedy builds a legacy fame could never

I hope when you’re gone, it’s not for forever


Halloween - “I used to joke if they woke you up, somebody better be dying”

I wore white lingerie on Halloween

And I loved the way his eyes lingered on my skin in that basement

I get too drunk on control

Pull the trigger

Crash too hard into what I really want

I wake up tasting blood in my nightmares

Can’t admit that you’re the subject of my dreams

Few and far between, but still so real

When my brother’s friend smokes, it reminds me of you

Curls in the spaces of my best friend’s car

I think I’ll always love you from afar


10PM in a hospital

They think it’s something to do with his appendix

His family can’t reach him from Chicago

So we sit with him instead

Laugh about the drawings on the walls

And how we’re not gonna make any money

Wish they’d put moments like these in the movies

Never yell “cut” so we could talk all night long

I can’t seem to remember where the film ends

Burn marks on the negatives

If I can’t hold onto the past

I light it up

Plug into the wall like a Christmas tree

Adorn it with lies

Strip it down and touch the sharp edges


Chinese Satellite - “I wish I wrote it, but I didn’t so I learned the words”

Can you replace nine years with a song?

I think you drive because you don’t know what to say

Watch the sunset behind the trees

I wish I knew how it felt when you weren’t around

But swingsets could replace a parent somehow

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you cry

You said to me, “Somebody died”

I never saw you like that at the funeral

But I couldn’t say anything because he wasn’t my dad

And I was special, the only girl

I wish I had an apology for my cousins

We all had to deal with too much chemo

Diabetes at Thanksgiving

And cancer at Christmas

When my grandma speaks,

I hope they all listen

I play Dave Matthews Band

He’s surprised that I know them

I love that I can surprise you still

19 years means nothing when you’ve been hiding

Maybe these are the moments that will make up for lost time


Moon Song - “And there’s something I’m supposed to say, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is”

The one time I believed in magic

Was when the moon turned orange

Ran onto the porch, my brother beside me

It feels like October in August

Pull out your jack-o-lanterns and candy

Keep the skeletons in the closet

It’s time to dress up

Pretend to be someone else for a night

That would be nice


I hate talking to you because so much comes out

But none of it feels true

Like walking the beach and forgetting the ocean

It roars but it’s easy to ignore

That’s what I do when I’m around you

I’m a good liar

At least to myself

Even better when it’s somebody else

But I could never be that way

You see right through it

If only I could too

I’d love to see what your inside looks like

Would it be as strange and gooey as mine?

There’s blood on my hands

I hope it’s yours

You’ve never shown anyone this before


Savior Complex - “All the skeletons you hide; show me yours and I’ll show you mine”

Wind in the trees

Grass beneath my feet

Never has anything felt so easy

I love the nights we end up somewhere

I always end up cleaning the floor

I hope that shows you that I care

I imagine one night I’ll sneak out of the house and go to the beach

I would see us all there, staring out at the waves

Just ghosts of something I can never have again

I always wonder if my friends are real

Or if I’m living in some fucked up dream where I’m winning

Chew me up

Spit me out

There’s no way I’m getting free now

I’ve washed so many dishes here

This is the beginning of so many years

There are so many nights where I can’t sleep

But 2AM with all of you comes with ease

I love to hear you breathing beside me

On the pull out couch

Somewhere in Massachusetts

None of this makes it hurt less

Maybe for once my heart feels like the right size


ICU - “But I feel something when I see you now”

You make me feel like I’m on fire

Too bad I learned that you’re a liar

High at the party when we’re all sober

Saying “someone should tell her the party is over”

My mom said to look out for ones like you

But I can’t help it if I want to fix you


Graceland Too - “Predictably winds up thinking of Elvis and wonders if he believed songs could come true”

My aunt said she died in Alabama

It seems like the saddest place to die

To lay down your lungs and let your spirit fly

Amongst the neglect of the midwest

We never think we’ll end up there until we do

Toledo sounds like a sandstorm

Tornado rising up out of the fields

I wonder if she wants to forget

Or if she sees Ohio in the sky

I promised my neighbor

I’d Kerouac it someday

Write that novel, but I’m no Great American

Stay in a motel, call it home

Work long hours at a diner

Wipe off the tables once the last man has left

Maybe stay and smoke a cigarette

Wait until the trucks have gone to bed

Look out on the plains and see the lights of a ferris wheel

I want to create a world that’s not real


I Know The End - “But you come back with gravity”

I’m not scared of the ocean, I’m scared of lakes

Why look out for sharks when they’ve already caught the bait?

I can’t swim without feeling his dead body following mine

Chained to my ankles as I grasp for land

I never see my own reflection

I just see him, lungs filled with water

Am I a killer?

I watch so many leave

I can’t help but think maybe it’s me

Sometimes I wish I knew him

But I think I just wanted something to grieve over

To not feel like an imposter at the church

They would all point at me and scream

She’s a fake

Let the stained glass windows shatter

Let me see evidence of a god

I’m finding it hard to believe right now


I have this apocalyptic dream

We’d run away to a Costco

Before the undead could get us

Sleep among the mattresses

And feast on perishables

But what if the end isn’t zombies and blood

How will I know where to look?

How do I learn to not fear my last breath?

I guess you don’t

I know he didn’t

read more about Tatum here

read more about Lorelei here

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